The Assistant Director of Nutrition Services in the Ministry of Health Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr. Vincent Assey, presenting a keynote speech on behalf of the Permanent Secretary,
Mr Mpoki Ulisubisya at the second policy dialogue held at the National Institute for Medical Research (NMRI) in Dar es Salaam, on Friday has said that weakness in the country’s surveillance system has remained a factor for communicable disease outbreaks, posing a serious public health problem despite continued efforts to prevent and control them.
Assey said that diseases consume the scarce national resources, affect economic productivity and have the potential for international spread. “Among the reasons as to why the diseases continue to cause a lot of suffering is weakness in the surveillance systems. It has been observed that there are often delays in the detection and reporting of epidemic diseases when they occur, especially from the lower levels in the community,” Moreover, he pointed out that critical analysis of data obtained for decision making is not thoroughly done and there is minimal feedback.
He said that as they embark on building our system to be resilient and one which will address National Health Security, we must ensure that we build not only the pillars for surveillance and response, but rather to address them all to better detect, prevent and respond to all public health threats,” he said.
He added that addressing Global Health Security is the national outmost concern, it thus requires intersect oral cooperation. Expounding further, the Assistant Director said the previous years experience in controlling the rift valley fever epidemic and recently cholera and anthrax has shed some light that prevention and control of diseases go beyond addressing the health sector.
Among initiatives, he said; include the establishment of the National One Health Coordination Unit under the Prime Minister’s Office with the aim of coordinating intersect oral approaches on zoonotic disease.
The Assistant Director, NMRI Research Scientist, Dr. Leonard Mboera has said that he appealed to stakeholders involved in surveillance programmes to support the government to accelerate efforts in developing strategies to disease surveillance, response as well as to mobilize resources to meet the requirements for adequate implementation,” saying that the objective of the workshop was to discuss and deliberate on priority policy issues in disease surveillance and outbreak management in the country. “Following the trend of disease outbreaks in the country, we are going to discuss on best practices of improving timely access to information if anything unusual is being detected in various areas,” he said. Areas for discussions included community-based participatory surveillance, introduction of congenital viral disease among women in Tanzania, use of mobile technologies to support disease surveillance and prevention and control of cholera outbreaks.